Plant breeding queen Tress Walmsley has taken on a new volunteer role as the Grain Industry Association chair at an “exciting time” when the organisation’s future has recently been secured. Ms Walmsley was appointed to the role at the GIWA annual general meeting on October 18, replacing Beaumont farmer Lyndon Mickel — who held the role for two years. Mr Mickel stepped down from what the “rewarding” role to spend more time with his family and focus on his farm, after two years of commuting the 800km to Perth from Beaumont and back. Ms Walmsley has had involved with GIWA since its inception in 2008, when she was a member of its inaugural wheat council. She has also been involved with its barley and oat councils. She stepped on to the GIWA board in 2018, and has been deputy chair since 2021 — a volunteer role that complements her full-time role as CEO of plant breeding business InterGrain in Bibra Lake. Ms Walmsley said her motive to be involved with the organisation originally, still stood true today. “The purpose of GIWA delivering an effective and efficient supply chain. . . but what I really like about the organisation is the sense of community and belonging it gives people,” she said. “Through GIWA, I have developed genuine industry friendships. It is an organisation primarily is made of volunteers and we all come together with a genuine industry passion.” She said GIWA’s commodity councils — barley, oat, oilseeds, pulse and wheat — were the “engine rooms” of the organisation. “Through running a national business, I really do see that what we have here in WA is unique and very powerful,” she said. “I often think, ‘where is this on the east coast?’ It doesn’t exist. “That whole supply chain coming together is very powerful.” Mr Mickel said he stepped down at a time when GIWA’s future and how it would fit in with the new Grains Australia — a national group amalgamating several segregated good functions groups within the $1 billion national grains industry — had been secured. Countryman revealed in April that GIWA would “align” with but not be amalgamated into Grains Australia — something both Mr Mickel and Ms Walmsley said was “very good news”. “Industry has been going through consolidation and now both GIWA and Grains Australia have clarity. . . we reaffirmed what our core purpose is,” Ms Walmsley said. Ms Walmsley said GIWA was also now working to create the first grains industry strategy since 2015 in conjunction with CBH and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. “It’s been nearly 10 years since the last one, and since then we have really embedded that we are the export-driven State of Australia,” Ms Walmsley said. “But we see there is domestic opportunity available as well. “I think a strategy that ensures we are 100 per cent efficient and effective across our whole supply chain — to promote export and domestic opportunities — is really critical.” Ms Walmsley is also the chair of Australian Crop Breeders, a member of the Grains Australia barley and oats council and a director of the ChemCentre WA. GIWA was set up in 2008 with the purpose of supporting the WA grains industry through communication, information exchange, capacity building and supply chain solutions for WA. It brought together the National Agricultural Commodities marketing Association WA, Oilseeds WA, the Western Oat Alliance, the Western Region Barley Council, and Pulse WA.